… and as a business travel arranger, I’m curious to know how this is going to effect me in the months to come, too. Some of my business travelers may benefit, but many of my guys are based in Houston (CO’s southern hub) and other Midwestern cities – NOT Chicago or Denver (UA’s main hubs). They don’t fly United much except for some of the ones that like the early morning ‘daylighter’ flights to Britain from Washington or Chicago.
Now that United Airlines and Continental Airlines have tied the knot, business travelers will be wondering how this latest merger will affect them, and if additional airline consolidation is likely in the near term. Assuming the deal clears all hurdles, just four network airlines will remain, down from six two years ago before the merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines.
For most travelers, the impact of the Continental-United merger depends most on where they live and where they fly most often. The combined route network of the two airlines may benefit those who live near a large hub operated by one of the airlines or those who fly to one of those hubs frequently. The addition of United’s route network gives Continental fliers a combined airline that is very strong in the North Central U.S., with hubs in Chicago and Denver, as well as a major presence along the West Coast and across the Pacific.
I will say that I hope, hope, hope that the merged airline will DUMP UNITED’S MANILA-BASED CUSTOMER SERVICE reps, and keep Continental’s Executive Desk folks. Whenever I have a customer service issue, ticket waiver, or hairy international recalculation to get fixed and the traveler is on United, I groan. Why? Because I hate, hate, hate the voice activated phone menu system on United’s toll-free number, and the chances that I’ll get somebody that can actually help me are about 15%, since the Manila agents are not empowered to do much beyond the level of a routine question like a name change exchange.
Agents on other accounts may disagree, but my experiences with United since coming on my current team has been consistently bad. They used to be a LOT better when I was on a different account that had a higher tier service level agreement with them, but then that account switched favorites to American, and that’s when we were introduced to the folks in Manila, who try hard but rarely meet my expectations.
When I have a situation on Continental, however, I breathe a sigh of relief, because I know that I’ll soon be talking to an expert who offers real support.
I sure hope those people keep their jobs.
In slightly related, travel agenty detail, I suppose the CO (005) code will go away, and UA (016) will remain. Pity, that, because the lower number is just cooler. Interesting that they’re going to merge logos, though.